PORTLAND MONTHLY: This Meal Delivery Service Provides Healthy Food to Portland’s Sex Workers

We’ve all heard it: “Portland has more strip clubs per capita than any other city in America.” With twice as many strip clubs as public restrooms, the City of Roses boasts everything from intimate rock ’n’ roll to entirely vegan-themed clubs. Despite their widespread popularity and protection under Oregon state law, strippers are often faced with challenges that are anything but sexy. Access to healthy food is one of them.

Restaurants in Portland are legally required to serve food if they serve alcohol, but late-night dining options are limited. Many smaller clubs don’t even have chefs past 8 or 9 pm, and greasy menus make it difficult for strippers to find something other than deep fried drunk food to eat on the job. The fact that very few restaurants are open by the time they get off work, coupled with limited public transit hours, only exacerbates the problem.

Early last year, one woman set out to fix it.

Nikeisah Newton began preparing healthy to-go meals from her kitchen for her own circle of stripper friends. Newton, a chef, started making to-go meals for her former partner, a stripper and full-time student who hardly had time to cook for herself between gigs. Many of Newton’s friends who were DJs, cocktail waitresses, dancers, and bouncers were all in the same boat. Her partner would routinely bring healthy meals with her to the club, and when she was met with interest and positive feedback from others, she couldn’t help but share her realization with Newton: “You know, they would pay you if this was a delivery service,” she said. Flash forward to January 25, 2019, Newton’s first official delivery as Meals 4 Heels, Portland’s first late-night clean meal delivery service tailored to strippers and sex workers.

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This Meal Delivery Service Provides Healthy Food to Portland’s Sex Workers By Lauren Carlos 

Published July 17th, 2020 


THE NEW YORK TIMES: Trump Administration Erases Transgender Civil Rights Protections in Health Care

The Trump administration on Friday finalized a regulation that will erase protections for transgender patients against discrimination by doctors, hospitals and health insurance companies, a move announced on the four-year anniversary of the massacre at a gay nightclub in Orlando and in the middle of Pride Month.

The rule, which does not differ much from a proposed version released last year, is part of a broad Trump administration effort across multiple areas of policy — including educationhousing, and employment, as well as health care — to narrow the legal definition of sex discrimination so that it does not include protections for transgender people.

The Affordable Care Act, the 2010 law often known as Obamacare, established broad civil rights protections in health care, barring discrimination based on race, color, national origin, sex, age or disability in “any health program or activity” that receives federal financial assistance.

 

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Published June 12th, 2020

 


DAZED: ‘No Justice, No Booty’: The Strippers Striking for Racial Equality

It’s a sunny Wednesday afternoon in Portland, and chants of “no justice, no booty” ring out as a group of strippers in patent platform boots march through the city. Holding signs that read, ‘Hire Black strippers, tip Black strippers’, and ‘No reform, no perform’, they’re striking in protest against racial discrimination in Orgeon’s strip clubs.

Organised by activist group, the Haymarket Pole Collective, the demonstration is one of two weekly rallies that have been held since June 19, as part of the PDX Stripper Strike, bringing together dancers, DJs, bartenders, managers, and strip club owners.

“The thing I’ve heard over and over,” Cat Hollis, the group’s leader, tells Dazed, “is that it’s the most fun they’ve ever had at a protest. We usually have a sound system blasting music, and people wearing eight-inch high heels to walk the mile routes.”

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'No Justice, No Booty': The Strippers Striking for Racial Equality by Brit Dawson

Published July 3rd, 2020

 


KINK WEEKLY: Kink in the Time of COVID

I would be hard pressed to find something less sexy than a global pandemic. Between heightened emotions, tremendous fear, heartbreaking tragedy and social isolation, we have been thrown into a world that is not only unfamiliar, but unwelcoming. The very ground that we walk on has collapsed and we are experiencing a version of life that no one could have prepared for. Whether we are single or partnered, this shift has resulted in significant changes to our erotic and sexual lives. Relationships that were once solid are now rocky, sex lives that were once full and exciting are now dull and for many, expression and practice of kink is now stifled.

With dungeons closed, play parties halted and general human to human contact at a minimum, it is increasingly harder for kinky folks to feel connected in a meaningful and fulfilling way. Shifts in the hierarchical structures and foundations of many D/s relationships are leading to an increase in relationship tension and overall emotional and sexual dissatisfaction. What I have witnessed in the last few months both personally and professionally is a shift in all interpersonal relationships but none more powerful than those where kink plays a major role.

While much of what people are feeling can be traced back to the financial, physical, and emotional strain that the lock downs have had on our well being, there is a piece that remains virtually hidden from the typical discourse about life in the time of Covid. The “how are yous” and “how are you holding ups” are usually meant to gauge how an individual is coping and the typical, perhaps unconscious, intent of those questions is to open the door to complain about the stressful state of our current lives. What is missing from so many conversations are the questions about how their relationships are being impacted, particularly those that exist in a hierarchical structure.

 

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Kink in the Time of COVID by Elyssa Rice

Published June 28, 2020


ADVOCATE: Vulnerable LGBTQ+ Sex Workers Targeted Again by Politicians

The modern queer liberation movement began 51 years ago with the Stonewall Riots, where Black and Brown LGBTQ+ consensual sex workers and homeless youth demanded a space to congregate and freely express themselves. Today, the internet is the quintessential refuge for this community to work safely and share vital survival tactics. However, the Senate Judiciary Committee is poised to vote on the EARN IT Act, a death blow to internet privacy, and the end of needed online mediums the most marginalized LGBTQ+ communities rely on to survive. Like its predecessor SESTA/FOSTA, which has already endangered countless consensual LGBTQ+ sex workers, preventing the passage of the EARN IT Act is a matter of life or death for our community.

Well-connected advocates claim the “Eliminating Abuse and Rampant Neglect of Interactive Technology Act” will combat online child exploitation. In reality, it gives Attorney General William Barr and his office carte blanche authority to establish coercive guidelines that will force online platforms to moderate and censor content. Further, Barr wants to use EARN IT to coerce platforms to create backdoors for law enforcement to access encrypted data. This will destroy any sense of privacy that marginalized communities have to live free of intrusion from law enforcement. If online platforms do not follow Barr’s guidelines, they could lose their liability protection under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which would make them susceptible to lawsuits. To avoid liability, many platforms will simply ban all sex-related content and communications.

LGBTQ+ sex workers create online networks to keep fellow community members safe, minimize harms, and fight exploitation. I know, because I was a young queer sex worker before becoming an attorney, and I now work alongside many sex workers on advocacy efforts. EARN IT, like SESTA, which many lawmakers now regret, is one of the most pernicious attacks on the community I’ve seen, and passing this law would be an abrogation of allyship with queer people for any lawmaker that supports this bill. LGBTQ+ young people are up to eight times more likely than their peers to trade sex for survival for a multitude of reasons, including employment discrimination, housing instability, for sexual liberation, and the many existing biases transgender community members encounter. Thus, being pro-LGBTQ+ requires recognizing the humanity and needs of queer and trans sex workers. This is a priority for countless queer advocacy groups, including the Human Rights Campaign and the ACLU. Simply put, elected officials cannot be both pro-LGBTQ+ and pro-EARN IT.

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Vulnerable LGBTQ+ Sex Workers Targeted Again by Politicians by Jared Trujillio

Published July 1, 2020


BITCH MEDIA: Love No Limit, Masturbation Opens Women up to Power, Play, and Pleasure

Pleasure is a human right; sexual pleasure is natural, not nasty; and self-pleasure (through masturbation) is a radical act, especially for women. Because I so deeply believe in these ideals, I spend as much time as I can advocating for women to experience the kinds of pleasure they deserve. Too often, women are fed scripts that tell them orgasms are some kind of arbitrary thrill that must be delivered by someone else. Rarely are women told that orgasms can be like happy pills—releasing endorphins into the brain that can better our mood—or can help our bodies relax enough to fall asleep. Self-pleasure can help relieve stress, and it can create pathways toward other kinds of pleasure. And since it’s National Masturbation Month, I decided to speak with one of my favorite sexuality educators, Goody Howard of Ask Goody, about why masturbation is so important—whether solo or coupled—and what the best tools are for the trade.

“My favorite benefit of masturbation is that it helps connect us to our pleasure,” says Howard, who has been teaching sex education and sexual health and helping women learn how to cum for more than 12 years. “When you know what feels good to you and communicate it to your partner, it makes you a better lover and makes the sex you have with others even more satisfying.” Self-pleasure is radical for women because, as Goody mentioned, it helps us understand how our own bodies work and what makes them feel their sexual best. The more we know about what brings our bodies pleasure, the more we’re able to center our pleasure when we share our bodies with others. It puts us in the driver’s seat. It teaches us that our pleasure deserves priority.

Get Started with Solo Play

In Howard’s view, it’s never too late to begin practicing masturbation. “The best way to ease into solo play is to indulge in something arousing (a book, song, memory, or good ole porn), put some lube on your hands and vulva, and explore,” she says. My own suggestion to beginners is to get more comfortable with their bodies. Sometimes the greatest masturbation sessions begin with self-touch and mirror time—concentrating not only on the parts of your body that tingle from touch, but also on the parts that make you feel beautiful and sexy. Not only can this kind of play lead us toward pleasure and orgasm, but it can also remind us that our bodies, no matter how they are formed, are beautiful and worthy of passion and praise.

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Love No Limit, Masturbation Opens Women up to Power, Play, and Pleasure by Josie Pickens

May 28, 2020


EBONY: [TALK LIKE SEX] Race Play Ain't for Everyone

Within the “kink” community, there are subgroups catering to specific interests and fetishes. Within these safe spaces, people can comfortably express their alternative desires among like-minded people who won’t dismiss them as weirdos. While some might seem extreme, they’re mostly innocent and harm no one. Still, some fetishes garner more controversial attention, and “race play” is definitely one of them.

Mollena Williams, an internationally known and respected writer, lecturer and authority on race play, defines it as “a form of consensual, sexual role-playing in which the actual, perceived or assumed racial/ethnic/national identities of the participants are specifically the focus of the scene.” She adds that race play “can include the fetishization of a specific racial feature (skin color, hair texture, facial features).”

Within the adult entertainment industry, there’s a high demand for movies and images depicting various forms of interracial coupling. A quick Google search for “interracial sex” yields tens of thousands of links to websites and movie clips catering to this fetish. Some scenes include White female starlets unapologetically use the “N-word” with Black male partners, who respond favorably and often with more vigor. Cuckold scenes often involves a White man whose White wife has sex with a Black man in front of him, to his apparent “shame.” There are even scenes with White men wearing confederate flag attire having sex with Black women.

 

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Race Play Ain't for Everyone by Feminista Jones

July 23, 2013


TRF NEWS: Thailand's Migrant Sex Workers Fear for the Future

Bua used to earn up to 40,000 baht ($1,300) a month as a sex worker in Thailand's northern province of Chiang Mai when the coronavirus forced entertainment venues to close, leaving her jobless.

Since March, the 32-year-old single mother, who is Burmese, has racked up debts of more than 15,000 baht to pay for her daughter's education and rent.

Bua survived on handouts from the sex worker group Empower Foundation, which ranged from rice to tampons, since government handouts required her to show a Thai identification card.

"If it wasn't for Empower, I would have committed suicide," said Bua, who asked in a phone interview not to use her real name and requested anonymity so family members did not find out about her work.

While Thailand has announced plans for bars, pubs and karaoke venues to re-open from Wednesday this week after being closed for four months, sex workers fear there will be few clients as most are foreigners and the borders remain closed.

2014 UNAIDS report estimated there were 123,530 sex workers in Thailand but advocacy groups put the figure at more than twice that number, including tens of thousands of migrants from neighbouring Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam.

Many young women are now among the 2 million Thais the state planning agency believes may be made unemployed this year because of the impact of the virus.

 

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Thailand's Migrant Sex Workers Fear for the Future by Nanchanok Wongsamuth

June 30th, 2020


TRUTHOUT: Sex Workers Have Never Counted on Cops. Let’s Learn From Their Safety Tactics

The uprisings sparked by a wave of police killings that took the lives of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDadeModesto “Desto” ReyesRayshard Brooks and so many others have sent mayors and lawmakers scrambling for reforms, as activists lift up longstanding demands to reimagine public safety and end policing into the mainstream. While the slogans “defund” and “abolish the police” may be new to the dominant news cycle, the ideas behind them are rooted in the longstanding movement to abolish prisons developed and led by Black and Brown feminists — including sex workers.

Now, as demands for abolition rise, sex workers — particularly Black transgender women, who are most targeted by police, and also have played prominent leadership roles in sex worker activist movements — are uniquely positioned to provide insight into models of community safety and care without police.

“We learned to be each other’s backbone, to try to be safe in our community because we know we couldn’t turn to the police,” said Tamika Spellman, a sex worker rights activist and policy director at HIPS, a Washington D.C.-based harm reduction group, in an interview.

Sex workers (as well as people who use and/or sell drugs) have always known they can’t rely on police for protection because cops regularly use laws that criminalize prostitution, drug possession, and living outside to harass, coerceextort and arrest them. Research shows sexual misconduct and sexual assault is endemic among police officers in the United States. A 2017 study based on interviews with 250 women selling sex on the streets of Baltimore found that 71 percent reported “abusive” encounters with police. Police get away with it because the law is currently on their side, and their position as law enforcement officers with powerful unions almost guarantees that they will not be held accountable.

Spellman said police are notorious for extorting money from sex workers in exchange for “protection” from being arrested. However, that protection only extends to the officers who get paid off, and with others, it’s a “crapshoot.” And what about protection from abusive clients and other risks that come with working on the street?

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Sex Workers Have Never Counted on Cops. Let’s Learn From Their Safety Tactics by Mike Ludwig

June 19, 2020


VERYWELLMIND: The Health Benefits of BDSM

Mainstream culture often represents BDSM (bondage, discipline, dominance, submission, and sadomasochism) as reckless, dangerous, and unhealthy. Take Fifty Shades of Grey, for instance; Christian Grey’s reasons for enjoying kink stem from his childhood abuse. Television crime dramas often portray fetishists as seedy, unethical lawbreakers. It isn't just the media that frames BDSM this way.

Prior to the release of the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders in 2013, participation in fetishism and sadomasochism was actually considered a mental disorder by health professionals. Attitudes about kinky sex have shifted. Pop culture didn’t make kink the latest fad, however. Humans have always had a penchant for adventurous sex.

A 2005 Durex Global Sex Survey found 36% of adults admitted to using some form of bondage during lovemaking. Even back in 1956, a ​Kinsey Institute Study revealed 50% of men and 55% of women enjoyed erotic biting. We may not be having kinky sex much more than we always have, but we’re certainly talking about it more.

Recent studies devoted to understanding BDSM and its effects on the body have shown surprising results. Not only are researchers failing to find evidence of harm BDSM causes, but they are also discovering it actually has quite a few health benefits.

 

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The Health Benefits of BDSM by Sunny Megatron

Edited on February 20, 2020; written much earlier